An American Believer in Jihad kills 13 soldiers in Texas – and all the warning signs were ignored

Mourners

When an American soldier, who was Moslem, shot 13 people dead at Fort Hood and seriously wounded many others, the reaction of the press was remarkable. ABC’s Martha Raddatz’s observation was that “as for the suspect, Nidal Hasan, as one officer’s wife told me, ‘I wish his name was Smith.’” The New York Times, in its article on the subject, gave examples of soldiers who had snapped under pressure and murdered people. And Evan Thomas, Editor at Large at Newsweek said: “I think he’s probably just a nut case. But with that label (Muslim) attached to him, it will get the right-wing going…”

However, Jihad is the “elephant in the room”. Jihad (holy war) has killed many millions throughout history, especially on the Indian subcontinent, but as a motive for Nidal Hasan, it was painful to consider.
But consider it we should have. Here are excerpts from 2 interesting articles on what happened.


Why I Murdered 13 American Soldiers at Fort Hood: Nidal Hassan Explains It All to You

By Barry Rubin

Nidal Malik Hasan

How do we know that the attack at Fort Hood was an act of Islamist terrorism? Simple, Major Nidal Hassan told us so. You’ve seen reports of a long list of things he did and said along these lines. But what’s most amazing of all is this:

Hassan is the first terrorist in history to give an academic lecture explaining why he was about to attack. Yet that still isn’t enough for too many people—including the president of the United States–to understand that the murderous assault at Fort Hood was a Jihad attack.

It was reported that the audience was shocked and frightened by his lecture. He was supposed to speak on a medical topic yet instead talked on the topic: “The Koranic World View as it Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military.” All you have to do is look at the 50 Power Point slides and they tell you everything you need to know.

It is quite a good talk. He’s logical and presents his evidence. This is clearly not the work of a mad man or a fool, though there’s still a note of ambiguity in it. He’s still working out what to do in his own mind and is trying to figure out if he has a way out other than in effect deserting the U.S. army and becoming a Jihad warrior. Ultimately, he concluded that he could not be a proper Muslim without killing American soldiers. Obviously, other Muslims could reach different conclusions but Hassan strongly grounds himself in Islamic texts.

In a sense, Hassan’s lecture was a cry for help: Can anyone show me another way out? Can anyone refute my interpretation of Islam? One Muslim in the audience reportedly tried to do so. But unless these issues are openly discussed and debated–rather than swept under the rug–more people will die.

In fact, I’d recommend that teachers use this lecture in teaching classes on both Islam and Islamist politics. .

Follow along with me and you’ll understand everything.

Hassan deals with three topics: What Islam teaches Muslims, how Muslims view the wars in Afghanistan and Iran, how this might affect Muslims in the U.S. military. [Slide 2] Hassan defines Jihad, showing how silly are the claims that it only means a personal struggle to behave better. It also signifies holy war, of course. [Slide 5].

Now here’s Hassan’s central theme. Muslims cannot fight in an infidel army against other Muslims. And Hassan himself says that it’s getting hard for Muslims in the U.S. military to justify doing so. [Slide 11] Obviously, Hassan was deciding that he couldn’t do so.

He then quotes the Koran extensively to prove the point. Allah will punish anyone who kills a Muslim [Slide 12]. Hassan then gives four examples of Muslim soldiers who broke under the strain. One who killed fellow American soldiers (which Hassan would himself do), one accused of espionage (but was acquitted), one who deserted, and one who refused deployment to Iraq. [Slide 13]

Quoting the Koran, Hassan next provides a number of quotations to show that the believer must obey Allah. If they do, they will enjoy great delights (though he left out the 72 virgins, there’s one quote hinting at pederasty), and if they don’t they will suffer torments of Hell.

Finally, he gets into the heavy stuff. Hassan introduces the concept of “defensive Jihad” which is a core element in radical Islamist thinking and has especially been promoted by Usama bin Ladin and al-Qaida. [Slides 37-39]. If others attack and oppress Muslims, then it is the duty of all Muslims to fight them. September 11 was justified by its perpetrators by saying that the United States had attacked Muslims and therefore it was mandatory to kill Americans in return.

And here is the crux of the matter: Verse 60:08, “Allah forbids you…from dealing kindly and justly” with those who fight Muslims.” [Slide 40]

If Nidal Hassan believed this and would follow it, he must—to be a proper Muslim in his eyes—pick up a gun and join the Jihad, Muslim side. He was not shooting Americans because he caught battle fatigue from American soldiers he treated. Think about it. To have done so, Hassan would have had to sympathize with them, thinking about what it would be like for him if he’d been fighting…Muslims in Iraq or Afghanistan. But that was precisely his problem. He sympathized with the other side.

Being ordered to ship out to one of these countries, Hassan now had to decide: which side are you on? Would he choose the side of Allah and the Muslims, to be rewarded in Heaven? Or would he join with the infidels, to be punished with Hell and to betray his religion? He made his decision.

It is interesting that no Muslim debate has developed over a very simple issue: What if two groups of Muslims are fighting, cannot one side with one group, even if it has non-Muslim allies? After all, Americans are not going to Iraq or Afghanistan simply to “kill Muslims” but to defend Muslims from being killed. The Saudis, Kuwaitis, and Egyptians had no problem with using Western troops to save them from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1991, for example. The Iraqi and Afghan governments, made up of pious Muslims, do the same thing.

Arab nationalists who are Muslims can take this position more easily. But for Islamists the problem is not some abstraction but knowledge that they are fighting a battle to seize control of all Muslim-majority states and indeed perhaps of the entire world.

The true problem, then, is not that some Muslims help infidels kill Muslims, but that some Muslims help infidels kill Islamists. But Hassan never considered this point, which could be quite persuasive to other Muslims in Western militaries.

So, in his thinking, how might Hassan have escaped from that stark choice? Hassan answers that question. Quoting the Koran, he indicated that if the Americans ended the wars, then that would be okay and no killing would be necessary. [Slide 42]

Another alternative is if the Americans accepted Islam or agreed to become subservient to Muslim rulers (dhimmis) and paid a special tax [Slide 43-44].

The third alternative would be if the Muslim Messiah came, destroyed Christianity as a false religion and set off the post-history utopia. [Slide 45]. He didn’t mention another part of this description, which was the murder of all Jews.

A digression is appropriate here. Hassan, although a Palestinian, has never been quoted as attacking Israel or the Jews. This is one more reminder that this struggle isn’t all just about Israel. But it also tells something important about Hassan which also applies to many Muslim radicals in Europe. Hassan is an American. As such he has no other nationality, neither Palestinian nor Arab. He doesn’t support Hamas or Fatah. But he has a religion that directs his thinking. That’s why he is an Islamist and why he supports a generalized Islamist revolutionary movement, al-Qaida.

As one moderate Muslim from Canada pointed out, the clothes he wore the day before committing his Jihad attack was not (as some sources put it in a silly manner) some martyr or even Arab garb but the clothing of Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is an al-Qaida Jihadi, having changed sides in the War on Terror.

Hassan was no fool or blind fanatic. Indeed, he presents a sophisticated view. For example, he quotes contradictory Quranic verses, one suggesting that all religions can enter Heaven; another that all non-Muslims will go to Hell [Slide 47].

His conclusion takes on tremendous significance in light of what would happen at Fort Hood. He writes:

“If Muslim groups can convince Muslims that they are fighting for God against injustices of the `infidels’; i.e., the enemies of Islam, then Muslims can become a potent adversary ie: suicide bombing, etc.”

And of course, these groups did so convince Hassan. [Slide 48]

Why? Hassan tells us:

“God expects full loyalty. Promises heaven and threatens with Hell. Muslims may seem moderate (compromising) but God is not.” [Slide 49]

And at the very end, he proposes what might have been his own escape route:

“Recommendation: Department of Defense should allow Muslim soldiers the option of being released as `Conscientious objectors’ to increase troop morale and decrease adverse events.” [Slide 50]

If that had existed for Hassan, I think, he would not have killed people. This proposal is worth debating, though it has negative implications too, of course. But then he had other options. He could have resigned his commission, deserted, or refused deployment as a conscientious objector and gone to prison. In fact, Hassan himself cited individuals who had done the last two.

Consequently, Hassan’s lecture also tells us why Muslims can choose not to be Jihadists, though this requires ignoring or rationalizing clear, religiously binding commandments in their religion or by being basically secular people of Muslim background. This is the kind of solution found in Christianity and Judaism, of course.

Hassan was too pious and consistent to take this way out. The answer to his personal behavior must be found in a mix of psychological factors and political-religious beliefs. The fact is, however, that he clearly did see himself as a Jihad warrior in the end. The existence of psychological factors in no way negates the importance of religious considerations.

All terrorists have some psychological forces working to make them follow such a path. Yet if not for ideological–and in the case of Islamists, religious–beliefs they never would have become terrorists. In contrast, criminals have psychological factors plus material goals, while mentally ill people who commit crimes are compelled by purely psychological factors. Hassan does not fit either of those two categories.

Equally, his action cannot be attributed to a “misreading” or “heretical” interpretation of Islam. To read this lecture is to understand how carefully and self-critically he approached the issues. Anything so obviously false or deviant from mainstream Islam would simply not appeal to so many Muslims. Hassan was looking for a way out in the texts and listed the “loopholes” he did find: either the United States must not fight anyone who was a Muslim or it must let him out of the military.

What Hassan neglected was an explanation that lay outside what his strict reading of the Muslim texts would allow him to say: the United States must fight, in general, because the Islamists have been the aggressors. And the United States is actually fighting as allies with one group of (more moderate) Muslims against another (of radical Islamists). Yet the texts always deal with the Muslim community as a united whole (the umma), an interpretation that just doesn’t correspond with reality. Indeed and ironically, this view enables Islamists to themselves kill thousands of Muslims all over the world!

The fact that Hassan’s lecture has not been the centerpiece of the whole post-massacre debate is a true example of how impoverished are the “experts,” journalists, and politicians at dealing with these issues. Of course, without exploring the Islamic factor, they’re wasting everyone’s time. They’re also going to be wasting quite a few lives.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan).


Jihad And The Scandal Of “Brain-Dead” Diversity
by Mark Steyn

Shortly after 9/11, there was a lot of talk about how no one would ever hijack an American airliner ever again – not because of new security arrangements but because an alert citizenry was on the case: We were hip to their jive. The point appeared to be proved three months later on a US-bound Air France flight. The “Shoebomber” attempted to light his footwear, and the flight attendants and passengers pounced. As the more boorish commentators could not resist pointing out, even the French guys walloped him.

But the years go by, and the mood shifts. You didn’t have to be “alert” to spot Major Nidal Hasan. He’d spent most of the last half-decade walking around with a big neon sign on his head saying “JIHADIST. STAND WELL BACK”. But we (that’s to say, almost all of us; and certainly almost anyone who matters in national security and the broader political culture) are now reflexively conditioned to ignore the flashing neon sign. Like those apocryphal Victorian ladies discreetly draping the lasciviously curved legs of their pianos, if a glimpse of hard unpleasant reality peeps through we simply veil it in another layer of fluffy illusions.

Two joint terrorism task forces became aware almost a year ago that Major Hasan was in regular email contact with Anwar al-Awlaqi, the American-born but now Yemeni-based cleric who served as imam to three of the 9/11 hijackers and supports all-out holy war against the United States. But the expert analysts in the Pentagon determined that this lively correspondence was consistent with Major Hasan’s “research interests”, so there was no need to worry. That’s America: Technologically superior, money no object (not one but two “joint terrorism task forces” stumbled across him). Yet no action was taken.

On the other hand, who needs surveillance operations and intelligence budgets? Major Hasan was entirely upfront about who he was. He put it on his business card: “SOA.” As in “Soldier of Allah” – which seems a tad ungrateful to the American taxpayers who ponied up half a million bucks or thereabouts in elite medical school education to train him to be a Soldier of Uncle Sam. In a series of meetings during 2008, officials from both Walter Reed and the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences considered the question of whether then Captain Hasan was psychotic. But, according to at least one bigwig at Walter Reed, members of the policy committee wondered “how would it look if we kick out one of the few Muslim residents”. So he got promoted to Major and shipped to Fort Hood.

And 13 men and women and an unborn baby are dead.

Well, like they say, it’s easy to be wise after the event. I’m not so sure. These days, it’s easier to be even more stupid after the event. “Apparently he tried to contact al Qaeda,” mused MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. “That’s not a crime to call up al Qaeda, is it? Is it? I mean, where do you stop the guy?” Interesting question: Where do you draw the line?

The truth is we’re not prepared to draw a line even after he’s gone ahead and committed mass murder. “What happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy,” said General Casey, the US Army’s Chief of Staff, “but I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty here.” A “greater tragedy” than 14 dead and dozens of wounded? Translating from the original brain-addled multicult-speak, the Army Chief of Staff is saying that the same fatuous prostration before marshmallow illusions that led to the “tragedy” must remain in place. If it leads to occasional mass murder, well, hopefully it can be held to what cynical British civil servants used to call, during the Northern Irish “Troubles”, “an acceptable level of violence”. Fourteen dead is evidently acceptable. A hundred and forty? Fourteen hundred? I guess we’ll find out.

“Diversity” is one of those words designed to absolve you of the need to think. Likewise, a belief in “multiculturalism” doesn’t require you to know anything at all about other cultures, just to feel generally warm and fluffy about them.

The brain-addled “diversity” of General Casey will get some of us killed, and keep all of us cowed. In the days since the killings, the news reports have seemed increasingly like a satirical novel the author’s not quite deft enough to pull off, with bizarre new Catch 22s multiplying like the windmills of your mind: If you’re openly in favor of pouring boiling oil down the throats of infidels (website note: Nidal stated this to other doctors) then the Pentagon will put down your emails to foreign jihadists as mere confirmation of your long-established “research interests”. If you’re psychotic, the Army will make you a psychiatrist for fear of provoking you. If you gun down a bunch of people, within an hour the FBI will state clearly that we can all relax, there’s no terrorism angle, because, in our over-credentialized society, it doesn’t count unless you’re found to be carrying Permit #57982BQ3a from the relevant State Board of Jihadist Licensing.

Ezra Levant, my comrade in a long battle to restore freedom of speech to Canada, likes to say that the Danish cartoons crisis may one day be seen as a more critical event than 9/11. Not, obviously, in the comparative death tolls but in what each revealed about the state of western civilization. After 9/11, we fought back, hit hard, rolled up the Afghan camps; after the cartoons, we weaseled and equivocated and appeased and signaled that we were willing to trade core western values for a quiet life. Watching the decadence and denial on display this last week, I think in years to come Fort Hood will be seen in a similar light. What happened is not a “tragedy” but a national scandal, already fading from view.

© Mark Steyn 2009

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Why Americans did not believe in the holocaust while it was happening

At a time when the Nazis were systematically eliminating every Jew they could get their hands on, the American press missed or downplayed this truly big story. In her book, “Beyond Belief”, Deborah Lipstadt explains how this happened. First of all, they should not have missed it, according to American reporter Sigrid Shultz. Shultz says “All one had to do was to go to one of the waiting rooms of the railroad stations in eastern Berlin and listen to Black Guards [SS] arriving from or leaving for the front. They seemed to enjoy describing how they had locked Poles and Jews into cellars and then thrown hand grenades through windows left open for the purpose.”

There were many other sources and methods of finding out the truth, but they were not trusted or used. The New York Times as well as other papers did not trust sources who tried to tell them what was going on. For instance, when the Germans announced that they had killed 480 civilians in Lidice, in reprisal for the murder of the Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich, The New York Herald Tribune observed that this was not the product of the “terrified imagination of a refugee or [the] invention of an angry propagandist. It is the official announcement of the Nazi radio.” That, they did trust.

Another explanation for why Germans were trusted more than the Jews and the Polish government in exile was that the number of victims claimed by Polish and Jewish organizations could be dismissed as too immense to be plausible. Also, the press often missed the point that the elimination of Jews was central to Nazi ideology, and tried to explain that the Jews were just scapegoats, or even a sideshow to make the German’s own privations seem mild by comparison, or that persecution was going on for various other incorrect reasons that they speculated on.

The U.S. and British governments were no help in getting the truth exposed. In July 1943 Foreign Office officials were still complaining about Polish and particularly Jewish groups’ use of these stories to “stoke us up” and force the government to “waste a disproportionate amount of … time in dealing with wailing Jews.” State Department officials felt similarly.

Much of the American public did not believe the atrocity reports. William Shirer was an American reporter in Germany, and he wrote in the Washington Post in March 1943 that the public had an attitude of a “silly sort of supercynicism and superskepticism” which persisted despite the fact that there was “no earthly reason” for people not to believe. When Shirer was in Berlin, “most of the Americans who visited Germany in the early Nazi days used to say: ‘The Nazis can’t really be as bad as you correspondents paint them.” Shirer found the persistence of disbelief particularly odd in light of the fact that the Nazis had themselves admitted the truth of some of the atrocities and that many others had been committed in public view. In January 1944, Arthur Koestler wrote in the Sunday New York Times Magazine that public opinion polls in the US showed nine out of ten average Americans dismissed the accusations against the Nazis as propaganda lies and flatly stated that they did not believe a word of them. American soldiers often did not believe in Nazi atrocities either. Saturday Evening Post editor Edgar Snow related how an American flyer who had just returned from bombing the German lines emphatically stated that “he didn’t believe all that ‘propaganda’ about Nazi brutality.” Moreover, soldiers argued, there was no real difference between the Axis and the Allied forces. “They say they are fighting for an ideal and they are ready to die for it, and that’s just what we’re doing.”

Some critics even argued that photos and films of the camps were being released to make the American feel vengeful against the Germans.

As late as 1944 eyewitness accounts–particularly those of victims–were not considered irrefutable evidence even if they came from independent sources and corroborated one another.

Doubts even persisted even at the end of the war after American soldiers, reporters, editors, publishers, and members of Congress had seen camps and after the Army Signal Corps screened a movie on the atrocities in American theaters. Soldiers who had taken pictures of what they saw found that some people still thought their pictures were propaganda. One G.I. who was at Dachau told his parents what he saw “and they didn’t know what the hell I was talkin’ about.”

A very partial excuse for this disbelief was that In the first World War, there were indeed lies about German atrocities. So Americans did not want to be fooled again. Also the American and British governments did not want to host Jewish refugees, and so it became Allied policy to refer to “political refugees” and not Jews, or to Nazi victims by country of origin and not again as Jews.

So ultimately, a big story was missed by the newspapers, despite a whole lot of evidence for it, and the American people did not realize the truth when the truth might have helped save some people.


The source for this page is the book: Beyond Belief by Deborah Lipstadt

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The Blindness Of The Jews – They could not understand Nazi Motivation

In Elie Wiesel’s autobiography: (All Rivers Run To The Sea, published by Alfred Knopf, NY in 1995) he tells how his Hungarian Jewish village ignored the warnings of impending doom at the hands of the Nazis. News of massacres in Poland filtered through to the village. "And that should have been enough to awaken us." He described how more than a thousand "foreign" Jews – those unable to document their Hungarian citizenship, were expelled to Nazi occupied territory in Poland, where they were promptly killed. Only one survived, Moshe the synagogue beadle. He came back and he told a hair-raising story. Those expelled had been slaughtered and buried naked in ditches…He talked on and on about the brutality of the killers, the agony of dying children, and the death of old people, but no one believed him. The Germans are human beings, people said, even if the Nazis aren’t. The more convincing Moshe the beadle tried to be, the less seriously he was taken. He has suffered too much, people said, so much that he doesn’t know what he’s saying. Then he would lose his temper. "Listen to me!" he would shout. "I’m telling the truth, I swear it!…If I’m lying, how come I’m alone? Where is my wife and our children? What about the others, your former neighbors? Where are they? I’m telling you, they killed them. If you don’t believe me, you’re crazy." Poor guy, everyone said, Raving mad.

Then the Germans occupied the village. For a few days, nothing happened. It was the Jewish Passover holiday, and the Weisel family looked for a guest for their Passover Seder. They had trouble finding anyone until they found Moshe the beadle. Elie noticed their guest’s smile at the dinner table seemed half ironic, half desperate. As they uttered the Passover prayers, the guest started laughing a joyless laugh. In the middle of the meal, he said "I thank you for inviting me. Everyone else forgot me. They’re afraid of me. You alone were not afraid. So I have a present for you. I would like to tell you what is in store for you. I owe you that." "Not now", said Elie’s father. "Your stories are sad, and the law forbids sadness on the night of Passover." At the end of the meal, Moshe exited the door and disappeared.

One reason Weisel gives for the Jews not being as suspicious of the Germans as they could have been was that in World War I German troops had also been in the area, and had behaved. Still, in many cases there were warnings, and the warnings were unheeded.

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Skeptics of America Who Swooned For The USSR

In his book Political Pilgrims (Oxford University Press 1981), Paul Hollander talks about alienated Western intellectuals who visited Communist countries such as the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and North Vietnam in search of a better society. These intellectuals poured out praise for regimes that had killed large numbers of their own people, put political prisoners in labor camps, and indoctrinated the average citizen. As Hollander says "It seemed that they (the intellectuals) had a tendency for a selective preoccupation with various historical and social events and issues while allowing others to bypass them completely. I was struck by a puzzling juxtaposition of insight and blindness, sensitivity and indifference."

How could these political pilgrims not see the underlying reality of the countries they visited? Hollander quotes a former admirer of Mao’s China, Jonathan Mirsky, who wrote in 1979 of his attitudes in 1972: "Throughout our trip…we sheathed the critical faculties which had been directed at our own Government and… humbly helped to insert the rings in our own noses." Mirsky quoted one of his former guides, whom he met again in 1979: "We wanted to deceive you. But you wanted to be deceived."

What was the mechanism of self deceit? Paul Hollander gives several reasons for the blindness of the intellectuals, but one interesting mechanism he describes is what he calls "Contextual Redefinition": For example, he says about visitors to the USSR: "The connection between predisposition and perception was so close that even sights or experiences unappealing or indifferent in other contexts were transvalued and redefined in the Soviet." He quotes Eugene Lyons who arrived there in 1928 "…Elsewhere the dinginess might be depressing. Here it seemed to us romantically proletarian…". Hollander notes "at times the perfectly ordinary sent the observer into raptures over something he would have paid little if any attention to in his own country. Waldo Frank discovered virtues in a Russian train he would not have been able to find in similar pieces of machinery traversing capitalist rails: "There is something about a Russian train standing at a station that thrills… The little locomotive is human…" Eugene Lyons observed the "…Voks [agency dealing with tourists] sell the glories of mass production to a couple of California back-to-nature, hand-loom faddists. Vegetarians..swooned in ecstasy of admiration for Soviet slaughter-houses." Theodore Dreiser wrote "…in Moscow there is poverty. There are beggars in the streets…But Lord, how picturesque! The multi-colored and voluminous rags of them!"

Contextual Redefinition can also be used to justify things that ought to have disturbed the visitors complacency. Thus Corliss and Margaret Lamont could reconcile themselves to manifestations of militarism in Soviet kindergarden by asking "in a setting of a socialist state may not all this have a different aspect?" And Feuchtwanger said that the "minor" inconveniences of life in Moscow did not blind Moscow’s citizens to the big things which life in the Soviet Union alone can offer…"

The Soviets went to great length to deceive their visitors. For instance, visitors to a prison camp did not know that the wooden guard towers that lined the road to the camp and all been destroyed the day before their visit, so that the camp would seem less forbidding. It would have difficult for visitors who were already favorably disposed to the USSR to overthrow all their conceptions and realize that they were victims of an elaborate scheme of deception. The reality of prison camps in the USSR was inhuman conditions and death.

Hollander points out that the visitors could have taken the stance that some things about the USSR were good, and some things were bad. But he says, for the most credulous visitors it all came in a package. ""They could not bring themselves to think or say, for instance, that the decline of illiteracy and infant mortality was admirable, but clearly the Purges and police terror were not."

Later, in the 60’s, alienated Americans looked at their own society as a package of evil. "The political and economic system, schools, colleges, mental institutions, prisons were all equally hellish (even "childhood was hell, the mass media brainwashed, mass culture was junk, the police a new Gestapo, the place of work a place of slavery; the family the oppressor in the home."

Visitors to other Communist utopias also employed contextual redefinition. Angela Davis, an American Communist, observed that in Cuba "The job of cutting cane had become qualitatively different since the revolution" because "during the cane season everyone pitched in." Likewise giant billboard posters, held in contempt when filled with the sloganized praise of capitalist products, were instantly transformed into devices of dignity and beauty when they advertised the blessings of the political system.

When 120,000 Cubans poured out of Cuba in the spring of 1980, this should have warned Cuban sympathizers that Cuba was no utopia. But Hollander quotes Philip Brenner of the Institute of Policy Studies in Washington who described these refugees as "materialistic malcontents."

In North Vietnam, visitors used the double standard of contextual redefinition. "while healthy and happy looking children in an American kindergarten would not have been regarded as proof of the superiority of capitalism over socialism, in North Vietnam the presence of beautiful children…is evidence of the regimes benevolence."

Hollander sums up. ""the objects of contextual redefinition may include material scarcities, hard manual labor, physical discomforts, and other depriving situations endured for higher purpose, and endowed with dignity because of the elevating context or meaning attached.

The people who visited these regimes had predispositions, or scripts. In their script the regime had given purpose to their people, had restored "community", and brought about social justice. These regimes were so wonderful that everything about them had to be wonderful, from their collective farms to their prisons. The psychological mechanisms of selective perception and projection were at work, and another mechanism, "contextual redefinition", which allowed mundane situations to be suffused with an emotional glow.

It is worth noting, as Hollander does, that in many cases the harsh truth of these regimes had been exposed by refugees and others, and this had absolutely no effect on the Political Pilgrims. In many cases their scripts were overthrown eventually, but they would never have been formed in the first place had the Pilgrims looked at the information that had always been available.

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How Israeli Leaders Ignored Warnings And Almost Lost A War

Before talking about Israel’s remarkable behavior, including censoring its own warnings, lets digress to about 30 years earlier:

Richard Sorge


"Zero hour was approaching. Five mechanized divisions of the Wehrmacht were deployed along the River Bug, on the Polish-Soviet frontier, in a state of high alert ready to jump off eastwards..Daily newspaper headlines in neutral countries, like Switzerland, announced the coming invasion of Russia… Richard Sorge – Soviet master spy in Tokyo – informed his Moscow superiors of the exact date weeks ahead: June 22, 1944. Moscow replied: "Doubts about the reliability of your sources." When Klausen, Sorge’s communication officer, decoded the radio message from Moscow, Sorge ranted: "I’m fed up! Why don’t they believe me? How can those degenerates ignore my warnings?" …Leopold Trepper, whose "Red Orchestra" was a Communist Soviet espionage network that covered the whole of Western Europe, informed Moscow of the coming invasion. Moscow didnt even acknowledge. "Leopold Trepper in Paris, like Rado in Geneva, like Sorge in Tokyo, was frantic. On June 21 – faced with the silence of his superiors in Moscow, who believed him even less than his colleagues in Switzerland and Japan – Trepper broke the most sacred rule of espionage. In panic, he rushed to Vichy, where the Soviet Embassy to Occupied France was located. That evening, he knocked on the door of General Sosloparov, the Soviet military attaché, and begged him: "I have news that the Germans will be attacking tonight. You must transfer it by urgent coded cable to the Kremlin." Sosloparov laughed: "Are you mad? It’s impossible! For your own sake, I refuse. Moscow will think you’re crazy…"

But Leopold Trepper pleaded and the cable was sent. It arrived in Moscow that evening. Since Trepper was usually considered reliable, the Head of Intelligence decided to take the telegram personally to his boss.

Leopold Trepper


.. Stalin glanced at the decoded text, thought for a moment, and muttered. "Otto (Trepper’s code name) usually has an acute political sense. How did he fall victim to crude British provocation?"

The next day the Germans invaded Russia.

How could the Russians have been so blind? Apparently Stalin "was convinced that Germany would not be free to move east until Hitler’s work of destruction was completed in the west…Stalin’s calculation assumed attrition of the Wehrmacht in the west, before it turned on the Soviet Union." Stalin’s calculations had no room for negative feedback from his competent agents.

The journalists who wrote the book “Kippur” (on the 1973 war between Israel and its neighbors) note that the Israelis should have been even more aware of the threat to their borders. Stalin and Hitler had a treaty of friendship, in fact Stalin’s Russia was shipping supplies to Germany. Israel’s neighbors, on the other hand, had repeatedly declared their intention of renewing the fire on all fronts, to compel Israeli withdrawal to the June 1967 borders. (In June 1967, Israel mounted its own surprise attack on its neighbors, who were about to make war on it. Its borders, as a result, expanded so that its border with Egypt was now the Suez canal, and its border with Syria was now beyond the Golan Heights.

They add: "the affinity with Stalin’s fatal mistake of 1941 becomes truly shocking. The Israeli "mishap" of 1973, like Stalin’s in 1941, primarily derives from a mistaken political and military evaluation that Egypt and Syria could not possibly wage full-scale war against Israel in the foreseeable future. …First signs of the Israeli mishap – non-digestion of repeated warnings, – were clearly to be seen from April-May 1973. In early April, Israel began to receive information on obvious war-like preparations in Egypt. such as forces advancing towards the Canal, confirmed intelligence reports from various sources that indicated a possibility of war with Egypt in the near future.

Accumulations of intelligence data were augmented by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s official statements. He declared his intention to go to war to anyone willing to listen…Official statements announced "The new government’s role is to prepare Egypt for the impending war." Thenceforward, not a day passed without the world press assessing an impending Egyptian war on Israel. On May 28, 1973, the Lebanese daily El Nahar reported: "An army is being transferred, by day and night, from Cairo District to the Canal zone. A high level alert has been declared in the Egyptian Army, against the possibility of a fateful decision at any minute."

Kippur’s authors explain Israel’s reaction: "The responsible Israeli agencies saw in this open and clandestine information an attempt to pressure Israel with the threat of war." In addition Sadat had made threats before, and even set dates of coming war, only later to explain to his nation why the timetable hadn’t been kept. So Israel stopped taking threats seriously. and, Kippur’s authors continue, "According to the prevailing political and military doctrine, Egypt could not possibly be seriously planning extensive war." For one thing, Israel was convinced that any invasion would easily be pushed back.

Anwar Sadat


The Egyptians held regular military exercises near the canal which by their regularity, helped sedate the guardians of Israel’s security.

The highest military and political echelons believed that the Arabs were not ready for war, and so did not accept the data coming in from various sources "which not only indicated impending war but gave the estimated timing." Information from forward observation points at the borders with Egypt and Syria both confirmed the thickening of enemy lines. Here and there, observers gave a more critical assessment. On the Canal, for example, they reported Egyptians driving stakes in the water, – apparently to build a bridge.

A senior officer in Sinai Division said: "We knew and reported what was happening on the Egyptian side a month and a half in advance. We knew that considerable Egyptian forces had entered the line. We saw amphibious equipment that had never before been seen on the Canal, brought forward to the line. We reported it. From the week before the war, we were on a high level alert." This alert had been declared on the initiative of the OC Armored Forces in Sinai.

The Israeli establishment even told newspaper correspondents to have ‘editorial moderation’ in reporting the news from Damascus and Cairo because "We have no interest in causing escalation." Israeli censorship also kicked in and deleted all news of tension that Israeli correspondents tried to publish based on private sources of information. This censorship made no sense, since it was not hiding any particular information from the Arabs. If there had been some mobilization of Israeli forces that the Israelis wanted to hide from the Arabs, it would have made sense, but there was no such mobilization. The authors of Kippur speculate that the government wanted to put on a positive spin on the situation due to oncoming elections. Whatever the explanation, it shows an intellectual dishonesty that we can see in some of the other examples in this book – not only do people delude themselves, they hide facts from others.

David Elazar


Information came to the small group of ministers and generals responsible for Israel’s security from an unidentified source predicting war. Other sources reported that Soviet aircraft were evacuating Russian advisors and their families from Damascus. Not much was done in the face of all these warnings. The Chief of Staff cancelled all leaves on both the Syrian and Egyptian front and proposed a C alert. The Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir, convened her "War Cabinet" on Friday, October 5. Despite all the warnings, nobody at the meeting believed war would break out the following day. After the war broke out, an official statement was made about the Friday meeting. It said "Though the military concentrations clearly indicated an attack, it was decided not to mobilize reserves in order not to give world opinion cause to say that Israel intends to attack."

A few moments before 4:00 hours on Saturday, October 6, Moshe Dayan, the defense minister, was awoken by the phone. Somebody informed him there could be no doubt of the reliability of information received since the New Year. War was certain. Egypt and Syria intended to begin "at six in the evening." Dayan then phoned the Prime Minister to tell her his new information. Mrs. Meir agreed with Dayan’s opinion that Israel should not engage in pre-emptive strikes of any kind because it might look like Israel was starting the war. Chief of Staff David Elazar’s proposals for both pre-emptive strikes and immediate general mobilization were not accepted. Dayan assumed that the regular forces and their tactical reserve could hold off the enemy with the help of a smaller quiet mobilization of the armor reserve.

Golda Meir then met with U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Keating. She told him all she knew, and made a point of promising that Israel would not fully mobilize. The Ambassador already had an intelligence report from Washington about Egyptian and Syrian preparations to open fire. Golda told Keating that President Nixon should talk to the Egyptian and Soviet governments and persuade Cairo to cancel its operation order. Keating then reported to Dr. Henry Kissinger, who contacted the Egyptian Foreign Minister. As a result, Syria and Egypt were informed that Israel knew there would be war that same day. This may be why they decided to attack 4 hours earlier than they would have otherwise.

Though war had been forecast for six that evening, it started around 2 that afternoon. The Israeli army had not yet deployed for war, in the belief that a full four hours were still available.

Lt. General (Res.) Yitzhak Rabin explained the tragedy as he saw it to a small circle of Labor Party leaders: "Moshe Dayan, the Chief of Staff and Intelligence Branch had what you could call a ‘mental block.’ They were prisoners of their own fierce faith and proclamations that war is remote, that the Egyptians are incapable or unable, and if they will go to war – ‘we will break their bones’. This mental block is the cause of their disbelief, and rejection of the available data." Rabin may have been on to something.

(Source: Kippur was written by Yeshayaho ben Porat, Hezi Carmel, Uri Dan, Yehonatan Gefen, Eitan Haber, Eli Landau, and Eli Tabor – copyright special edition publishers, 12 Block Street, Tel Aviv, Israel. dec 73)

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Britain’s Blindness To The Nazis (or why Hitler called Chamberlain ‘Der Arschloch’)

A. L. Rowse

A. L. Rowse, an Englishman who lived through the events leading up to World War II and after, wrote a slashing book titled “Appeasement: A study in Political Decline” about the political leaders and opinion makers of England and their disastrous appeasement strategy toward Hitler. He begins with The London Times, which during the whole period exercised an extraordinary influence. The editor, Geoffrey Dawson, was ‘by instinct a proGerman’. He took to himself an assistant, Barrington-Ward, who believed that Britain and France had imposed an unjust settlement on Germany in World War I, and that the allies should now pay for their mistake. “The conclusion drawn was that nothing that Hitler did, however immoral, was to be resisted”.
Why did Dawson not see the danger from Hitler? “It was not for want of warning. He got plenty of that from his own correspondent in Berlin, Ebbutt. Instead of paying attention to it, he doctored Ebbut’s dispatches. Dawson himself wrote ‘I do my utmost, night after night to keep out of the paper anything that might hurt their susceptibilities.”

To please Hitler, Dawson eventually removed Ebbutt from Berlin.

The Times could explain anything. When on June 30 of 1934 Hitler engaged in the Night of the Long Knives, where he saw to the murders of his friend Roehm and his followers, while Goring attended to the many murders in Berlin, “The Times did not condemn these appalling events; on the contrary, it approved one aspect of them: ‘Herr Hitler, whatever one may think of his methods, is genuinely trying to transform revolutionary fervour into moderate and constructive effort and to impose a high standard on Nazi officials’. As Rowse adds, “in fact, the bloodbath of 30 June precisely revealed the true nature of Hitler’s Germany: if this was what they could do to their comrades, think what they would do to their enemies, and did!”

Hitler’s peace pronouncements were given much attention. Philip Kerr, a participant in the "top of English political society" wrote articles in The Times saying that Hitler had specifically told him that Germany wanted equality, not war, that she was ready to renounce war, …and in armaments he asks no more than "equality for Germany…"

The British Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, also hoping for peace, actually misled Parliament and the country about the rate of German rearmament in the air. It was not for lack of the true figures. "He was supplied with those by both Lord Vansittart and Churchill independently. German generals risked their lives in giving us the figures in the hope of our restraining Hitler." (Lord Vansittart, who worked in the foreign office, was one of the few who saw the true nature of the Nazi regime.)

A former secretary to Baldwin, Tom Jones, was also a believer in Hitler’s peaceful intentions. He advised Baldwin, who preferred listening to him than to Lord Vansittart “whose warnings were so uncomfortable”. Rowse points out that T.J., Baldwin Chamberlain, Philip Kerr and others had never read Hitler’s Mein Kampf and would not listen to people like Vansittart who did know about Germany, German history etc.

Rowse doesn’t just blame the leaders for stupidity. He talks of running for election in Cornwall, trying in vain to open the eyes of his own people, in his own home-town. “They never would listen, any more than they would listen to Churchill, or anybody else who told them the truth.”

Hitler’s Foreign minister, von Ribbentrop, successfully took advantage of Britain’s fear of Communist Russia. T. J. is quoted by Rowse after he had a lunch with Von Ribbentrop “He (Von Ribbentrop) talks of Hitler as a being of quite superior attainments and fundamentally an artist, widely read..Communism is the enemy which Germany cannot resist alone and successfully without the help of Great Britain.”

T. J. later visited the Führer himself, in the company of Lloyd George (the former Prime Minister). He described the visit: Lloyd George’s photograph stood solitary on the Fuhrer’s desk, the Fuhrer expressed admiration for the great man who had defeated Germany in the war. “Lloyd, speaking with a tear in his throat, was deeply touched, and proud to be praised by “the greatest German of the age.”

A later prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, continued the appeasement. When President Roosevelt offered to join him in a world conference with Russia to face Hitler and Mussolini with the question "What did they want?"Chamberlain turned him down. Chamberlain thought it better for England to deal by itself directly with Hitler.
Germany then marched into Austria, to which The Time’s editor Dawson had no real objection, according to The Times own official history of itself (The Times History).
Germany also laid claim to the German-speaking area of Czecheslovakia, called the Sudetenland. Lord Halifax of the Foreign Office disavowed any plan that would involve Britain giving a guarantee to Czechoslovakia. Then on Sept 7, 1938 the Times came out with Dawson’s leader advocating the cession of the Sudeten areas.

Leopold Amery, a friend of Rowse’s, though on the opposite side of the political spectrum (Rowse was on the left, Amery on the right), pointed out in a later account of the period that “the heads of the German Army were convinced that they could not possibly have faced a war at that time. ” The group of generals at this time planned Hitler’s arrest; “at the same time they sent a succession of envoys, more particularly a German Conservative leader, Herr von Kleist, who came over in August “with a rope around his neck” and saw Vansittart and Churchill to tell them that the German Army and people were unanimous against war, but could only stop Hitler if we made our attitude quite clear. Chamberlain however was determined to see Hitler personally. This entirely disorganised the general’s coup, which had actually been planned for the very day when Chamberlain flew to Berchtesgaden.

Russia, which later joined Hitler, at the time backed collective security, in effect an alliance between Russia and the Western Powers to meet the growing danger from Germany. These overtures by Russia were repulsed.

Chamberlain went to see Hitler, and afterwards wrote to his sister that he "heard from Hitler himself, and it was confirmed by others who were with him, that he was struck all of a heap, and exclaimed ‘I can’t possibly let a man of his age come all this way; I must go to London’. Of course when he considered it further, he saw that wouldn’t do, and indeed it would not have suited me, for it would have deprived my coup of much of its dramatic force. But it shows a side of Hitler that would surprise many people in this country"

Rowse says “No wonder Hitler used to call Chamberlain, “der Arschloch.” Chamberlain reported of his first meeting with Hitler …In spite of the hardness and ruthlessness I thought I saw in his face, I got the impression that here was a man who could be relied upon when he had given his word”. Rowse adds “Vain old fool – his impression against all the evidence of perjury, torture, murder, thuggery that had accumulated since 1933 and was there before!

Chamberlain believed that “War wins nothing, cures nothing, ends nothing.” As Rowse points out, history proves differently.

Chamberlain’s settlement with Hitler gave Hitler the Sudetenland. Chamberlain claimed it had brought “Peace for our time”, but instead it made war certain and in the worse possible conditions – minus thirty five Czech divisions and without an ally, save a divided and unnerved France.

Later Hitler was to conquer the rest of Czechoslovakia. Only a day or two before Chamberlain had issued a statement to say that the situation was so hopeful that disarmament discussions might begin before the end of the year. The Soviets soon signed a pact with the Nazis, which even startled Dawson. The Germans invaded Poland. At this point Britain declared war. But it was a partial war. Britain would not bomb communications lines or even munitions works for fear of alienating American public opinion. Then Germany invaded Norway. British pilots were not even allowed to attack German held aerodromes in Denmark and Norway till 11th April, and even then, for another two days only allowed to machine-gun, but forbidden to drop bombs!

Rowse ends his book with an effort to explain why good natured men such as Dawson and Chamberlain could be so blind. He says that perhaps they did not know what kind of men they were dealing with in Hitler and his kind. But, he says, they were told often enough, why would they not take telling?

He adds that they were ignorant of Europe and European history. Another consideration. “The practical way of looking at things, not looking too far in advance, not rocking the boat, and other cliches that do duty for thinking ahead, may serve well enough in ordinary normal times. But our times are not ‘normal in the good old Victorian sense, and never will be again. And this habit of mind in politics will certainly not serve in times of revolution, perpetual stress and conflict, war, the reshaping of the world.”

Rouse notes that they were also anti-Red, and that hamstrung them in dealing with the greater immediate danger to their country, Hitler’s Germany. Yet the total upshot of their efforts was to aid Nazi-Germany to achieve a position of brutal ascendancy and..the very result of letting the Russians into the center of Europe which the appeasers – so far as they had any clear idea of policy – wished to prevent.

(Appeasement was published in 1961 by WW Norton & Co Inc, NY)

A fascinating webpage on the general mentality of the British – both the public and their government –
in this period is at Appeasing Hitler

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